Cold Brew Coffee Gets an At-Home Makeover

vanilla cold brew

You know when you’re jonesing for a creamy vanilla cold brew and the barista makes that sad face and tells you they ran out?

It happens a lot because cold brew coffee is, well, hot! And it’s even hotter in the 90-degree heat when a steaming cuppa joe just doesn’t sound right.

Starbucks put it on the mainstream map, but java junkies have been savoring the slightly sweet and less acidic iced coffee for some time now. I even grabbed a bottle of cold brew at a Southern California baseball stadium this summer.

The reason your favorite coffee shop is likely to run out of cold brew is because it takes hours to make. Unlike ordinary iced coffee, which is simply strong traditionally “hot brewed” coffee that can withstand the watering down from ice, cold brew takes from 12 to 24 hours to make. Ground coffee steeps in cold or room-temperature water, making a strong coffee concentrate that is mixed with water, milk or cream. This brewing  process makes the coffee less acidic, sweeter tasting and a little lower in caffeine.

So if you need your cold brew fix right now, here’s a super simple recipe for a drink that tastes a lot like Starbucks’ Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew. I’ve seen some incredibly complicated recipes that involve a multitude of ingredients and saucepans, but I nailed the drink with only three ingredients and some ice, shaving off about a third of the calories of the original. Oh, and it’s dairy-free, in case that’s your thing. Using vanilla coffee, almond milk and creamer really heightens the vanilla flavor without adding a lot of sugar.

Vanilla Cold Brew Coffee Recipe

Creamy Vanilla Cold Brew Coffee

Prep time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 1 drink

This cold-brew copycat will save you calories, sugar and some money.
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 4 ounces unsweetened vanilla cold brew coffee (I used Chameleon Vanilla, which is in many grocery stores)
  • 4 ounces unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons French vanilla coffee creamer (I used So Delicious Dairy Free French Vanilla Coconutmilk Creamer)
  1. Add the crushed ice to a tall glass. Then add the cold brew coffee and slowly add the almond milk and top with the creamer so you get a nice swirly pattern.

What’s your go-to coffee drink? And does your pick change with the weather? —Gail


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  1. I’m all about drinking cold brew at home because it’s still delicious, contains a fraction of the calories and costs significantly less. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I definitely think the creamer would step mine up a notch!